[Imports] Import guidelines - official or not? was: [Talk-us] parcel data in OSM
frederik at remote.org
Tue Jan 1 13:49:25 GMT 2013
> Can you provide a link to the guidelines the DWG uses?
> Please note that this guidelines on this page
> (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Import/Guidelines) are the ones
> cited by DWG members when they request sysadmins to place blocks on
> accounts that are importing
I'm kind of unsure what exactly all this is about.
There are no hard and fast rules; there is no rule that says: "If you do
this, then you will definitely get blocked", and there is no rule that
says "if you do this, then you will definitely not get blocked".
(For example, DWG may occasionally put a short time block on someone
just for not answering questions sent to him by other community members,
but of course not everyone who chooses not to reply to a personal
message has to expect being blocked.)
DWG members can themselves place short-time blocks on users without the
involvement of sysadmins, and will do so at their discretion. This
measure is normally used to stop someone who is doing something
detrimental, and not as some form of punishment. A DWG member does not
need to cite a guideline violation to place a block on someone; it
could, for example, simply be a "wait, let's talk about this before you
There was some ruckus recently when the French community was upset about
DWG requiring a separate import account; they demanded to see the
written guideline, or board resolution, or any other "law" that
described this requirement. When pointed to the page you quote above,
"You must not use your standard OSM user account."
the French community pointed out that this was changed on 22 March 2012
by Richard Fairhurst (who is a member of the OSMF board but not of DWG)
and before that it had read "Create a new user for the import. Do not
use your standard OSM user account.", without the "must not".
Some members of the French community felt that the old wording meant
that the separate account was a recommendation only and that they should
have had a say, or at least be informed, about that change of policy
that came into effect on 22 March 2012.
In reality, there was never a change of policy, and even before that
date DWG would occasionally ask people to create a separate account for
That's why I'm wary when someone asks me for an applicable policy - I am
in absolutely no mood to set up some kind of "law" where "lawyers" can
then discuss whether the wording "Do not use your standardard OSM user
account" means the same as "you must not use your standard OSM user
account" or not.
The page http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Import/Guidelines is
currently not in a form that I would like to see DWG stamping with a
"DWG official guidelines" seal because it doesn't have the big
"community is more important than importing" message on top that it used
to have half a year ago. As you know, I think that it is dangerous if
people get the idea that they could substitute people with imports. But
on the technical stuff, I think it is relatively sound, and anyway I am
only one of 8 in the DWG.
There's also the very old document
and the slightly younger
all of which should perhaps be merged into a better document, then
discussed by DWG and signed off by OSMF in some form - either by the
OSMF board or by the Management Team (which is a
currently-not-very-visible group that the OSMF board hopes will some day
take over the responsibility of implementing and publishing all sorts of
guidelines that working groups think are necessary). After being made
"official" in this way, the document would go onto the OSMF site where
it would remain unchanged until "official" updates are decided upon.
Making such a consolidated guideline is part of DWG's plan for the near
future. As you can see, these documents come from slightly different
backgrounds and their focus is different, and if you read them with a
lawyer's eyes you might also find contradictions (of the kind where one
document says you must do something and the other only says it would be
a good idea to do something, or so).
There's also the question of subsidiarity - or, as I cynically put it in
another post, in how far the project must allow a partial community to
shoot itself in the foot with an import or mechanical edit). This is
something that was also brought up by the French community but it might
apply to the import-hungry US too: Do import guidelines have to be the
same the world over?
To come back to your original question: Someone who wants to make an
import should certainly have read the three pages mentioned in this
post; they together form the canon of guidelines that will apply to most
imports. They are not however official, nor exhaustive; they cannot be
official because anyone can edit them, and they are not exhaustive
because it is always possible that there's an unwritten rule you are
expected to follow - that's why we always ask people to discuss their
plans, expecting that anything out of the ordinary would come to light
at that stage. It is also possible that for a certain import, not all of
the guidelines actually apply.
Now before someone pulls out the constitutional heavy guns ("how can I
do anything in a project where I don't even know what the rules are"),
let me say that the consequence of violating a rule that you didn't know
in OSM is, at worst, a short-time block and a revert of some edits. You
need to actively and knowingly play foul to get into more trouble than
that. Not having hard-and-fast official rules also means there's no rule
lawyering - no way for someone to find a loophole and claim immunity
because they follwed the letter and not the spirit of a rule. Once we
devise "official" rules they will certainly contain some paragraph to
avoid such lawyering.
I hope this explanation was helpful.
Frederik Ramm ## eMail frederik at remote.org ## N49°00'09" E008°23'33"
More information about the Imports